Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pataliputra The Largest Jewel in India’s Crown Part.II

According to these authors, Megasthenes described Pataliputra as 80 stadia long and 15 stadia wide – about 15 Km by 2.7 Km.  The whole city, he added, was encircled by a deep moat more than 180 m wide and a huge fortified wall more than 40 Km long, studded with 64 gates and 570 towers. The wall was built of timber erected in a double palisade, with earth packed in between. In the 1870s and 1920s, archaeologists found some of these timbers, preserved by water logging because of the high water table.

Other sources from which scholars have built up a picture of life in Pataliputra include stone carvings on religious monuments at the shrines of Sanchi and Bharhut in Madhya Pradesh state in central India; letters and essays left by Chinese travelers; and native Indian literature – particularly the Arthasastra, probably written by Kautilya, the Machiavellian advisor to first Mauryan emperor, Chandragupta, who reigned from around 321 to 297 BC.
Pataliputra had its origins in a village, pataligrama that existed on the site in the late 6th century BC. Its strategic location was appreciated in the 5th century BC by King Ajathashatru of Magadha a ruler notorious for the murder of his father, King Bimbisara- and he built a fort there. His grandson, Udayin , made Pataliputra his capital. Later rulers strengthened Pataliputra’s fortifications.

In 326 BC the troops of Alexander the Great were nibbling at the fringes of the subcontinent, subduing the fragmented kingdoms along the valley of the Indus river n present day Pakistan. Alexander’s spies had told him of the empire of Magadha that lay beyond. They brought figures for its fighting forces that spoke for themselves: 200000 men under arms, 20000 cavalry, 2000 chariots and 3000 war elephants. This was a gigantic force, and only an enormously wealthy and well organized state could have offered it.


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